One of the highlights of Paris Fashion Week for She Society was attending the Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2018- 2019 show of the lovely designer Maria Aristidou, who hails from the beautiful island of Cyprus. Maria’s designs were very elegant and included clothes made from beautiful fabrics, delicate knits, intricate patterns plus some truly show-stopping pieces. When Maria came to take her bow to the enthusiastic round of applause, her beaming smile and calm demeanour lit up the room. She Society were lucky enough to speak to Maria to find out more about this talented fashion designer and her journey from an idyllic Mediterranean island to the runways of Paris.
- Can you tell us about yourself and your journey as a designer?
I am from Cyprus, a beautiful island with a rich historical culture, which is situated in the Mediterranean Sea. I started designing at sixteen years old as a hobby. Even though my university studies in Canada and the U.K. that followed were in B.Comm.Management and Economics and an MA Career Counselling, the beauty and love for fashion design won my heart. When I returned to Cyprus I started with men’s fashion and then women’s fashion followed.
- Tell us about your collections and how many shows have you presented in Paris?
I have been designing since 2000. But officially in Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week I have had 4 presentations and my first Paris Haute Couture Fashion Show which was called Serendipity was held on 3rd July 2018.
- Where do you find inspiration for your collections?
Inspiration is never fixed. It comes from everyday life, people I meet. I see and study them. I find inspiration in life situations, travelling, my various collections, objects , nature and anything that happens around me.
- Can you briefly describe your design process?
For the last 4-5 years I have discovered the magical world of knit. I started to specialise in knits and especially on luxury knitwear when I felt the need to make a limited collection of knit scarves. Thus making the knit fabrics for the collections is an exciting process.
It all starts by designing the collection and at the same time working on the patterns of the knit fabrics. After the new pattern/s for every season are designed on paper they are transferred on to a computer program for the knit machines. Then comes a process of research and development- testing the colours, the quality and the patterns takes place in order to achieve the desired results. Once the fabrics are ready, they are cut, embroidered and sewn. Of course there are always changes during the design process if something does not work.
- Serendipity is a wonderful name for the collection. What does this mean to you?
Serendipity is the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or a beneficial way.
As a romantic and a realist ,two characters that sometimes clash, I was fortunately touched to feel the magic of serendipity and be inspired for this collection. I believe in both coincidence and destiny and always have faith that something wonderful will happen along the way, no matter the setbacks and difficulties!
- What type of woman wears Maria Aristidou designs?
Timeless classic with a touch of modern twist are the types of norms I always think about when I design for the women who wear Maria Aristidou.
- What defines your personal style?
Comfort and elegance. From a very young age I was always trying to find fabrics that would stand out and design details on my outfits that would always make a statement; such as sleeves with pleated details, always pockets on my dresses or embroidery that would make a difference.
- What advice would you give to aspiring designers?
In the fashion industry, as well as many other professions, the competition is fierce. There are always going to be ups and downs, many setbacks and falls, but the most important thing is to define the right goals for the future regarding your designing career. Success can come in the spark of a moment but the fall can be as quick. Always listen and judge the right advice, breath in the inspiration that comes along, persist and LOVE with a passion the work that you do, no matter the long working hours. There is a lot of hard work behind a fashion show, a photo shoot or a campaign. If you really love what you do, the future is yours, but never forget the initial journey because that’s all that matters.
- Can you name three places in the world where you find inspiration?
The world is the inspiration and every season the inspiration varies. To be honest I can’t just name three places, but some that I always go back to from the beginning of my designing career are Cyprus-Greece, Japan and France! Nevertheless places such as India, Morocco and Italy through their history, architecture, beautiful culture and colours have always been an inspiration throughout the process.
Such wonderful advice from this talented designer who is just as humble and lovely in real life as her thoughtful answers convey. I like to think serendipity was at the heart of our paths crossing. Maria Aristidou’s designs are truly elegant, modern and timeless. It was a pleasure that she invited me in to her world where I could share in the magic that is Haute Couture. Maria’s amazing design talent, work ethic, passion for her craft, love of family and Cyprus and her generosity of spirit are just some of the reasons why #SheInspires.